Nurses offer solutions, press for system change during annual visit to Queen's Park

TORONTO, Feb. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - Expanding registered nurses' scope of practice to allow for enhanced access to care. Improved compensation for nurse practitioners. An increase in the minimum wage to $14 per hour. More access to affordable housing. Safeguarding our environment by banning toxics. These are some of the issues more than 130 registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students will raise at Queen's Park during the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) annual visit to the provincial legislature this week. 

Nurses will travel to Toronto to discuss a wide range of nursing and health topics with 60 MPPs and representatives from all three political parties. They will bring first-hand experience from communities across Ontario to help illustrate issues, and offer recommendations that will advance the health of Ontarians, and quality of our health system. 

"Nurses know that funding has and will continue to be tight. We also know there are opportunities for improvement when it comes to access, and delivery of person-centred care that is more responsive and more efficient," says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. "That's why we'll be proposing solutions that will enhance our not-for-profit health system by better utilizing the resources we have." 

RNAO members will be armed with other key demands, such as ensuring medical tourism – a practice where health-care institutions create for-profit programs to attract patients from other countries on a pay-for-treatment basis – is completely banned in Ontario.

In November, Health Minister Eric Hoskins requested Ontario hospitals not market to, solicit or treat international patients – with the exception of international patient activity related to a hospital's existing international consulting contracts. He also pledged that the Ministry of Health will review all such contracts within four to six months. In the interim, he has asked hospitals not to enter into new international consulting contracts that include the treatment of foreign nationals in Ontario. While RNAO applauded this important step, the association is calling on the province to stop the process entirely by legislating a ban. "It's reassuring that the government is taking steps towards ending medical tourism – a practice that would ultimately lead to the erosion of Medicare," says RNAO President Dr. Vanessa Burkoski. "Now, it's time for Ontario to act quickly and ban medical tourism altogether."

Equal compensation within nursing will also be addressed. A significant salary gap currently exists between nurse practitioners who work in hospitals (the acute care sector) and those who work in the community (home care and primary care sectors): typically, the latter receive less. "More services are moving into the community, which means we need to address fair compensation now," explains Burkoski.

Nurses will hear speeches from political party leaders, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Progressive Conservative (PC) interim leader Jim Wilson, and health critics, including NDP Health Critic France Gélinas and PC Health Critic Christine Elliott. Minister of Health Eric Hoskins will also be in attendance. RNAO members will take part in group meetings with 60 MPPs and cabinet ministers, listen to question period, and will have the opportunity to pose questions of their own.

WHO

  • RNAO President Dr. Vanessa Burkoski and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Doris Grinspun
  • More than 130 RNs, NPs and nursing students
  • A total of 60 MPPs will participate in this year's event during two breakfast sessions at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
  • Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Health Eric Hoskins will address nurses at 1 p.m.
  • Jim Wilson, Interim leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and Health Critic Christine Elliott will speak at 2 p.m.
  • NDP Health Critic France Gélinas will speak at 3 p.m.

WHAT

  • RNAO's 15th Queen's Park Day

WHEN

  • Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, 1 – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE

  • Queen's Park, Macdonald Block, Erie-Thames-St. Clair room

Members of the media are welcome to attend.

This year marks the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) 90th anniversary. RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact: Melissa Di Costanzo, Communications Officer, RNAO, Phone: 416-408-5606, Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 250, mdicostanzo@RNAO.ca; For requests outside of office hours, please contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO, Cell: 647-406-5605, mzych@RNAO.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.rnao.org

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